Stu Bergen, Warner Music’s longtime head of international, is stepping down from his post at the end of January 2021, he announced Monday morning. No specific reason was given for his departure beyond a desire to “start a new chapter,” and judging by internal memos obtained by Variety, it’s a more than amicable exit.
“This is not a goodbye message but rather a thank you note,” wrote Bergen, whose official title is WMG’s CEO, Intl. and Global Commercial Services. “After more than 14 amazing, challenging, and fulfilling years at Warner Music, I’ve decided to leave at the end of January.
“I’ll give my all to a smooth and seamless transition, before starting a new chapter of exciting professional, personal, and philanthropic pursuits,” the note continued. “Thank you to each of you for your enthusiasm, ingenuity, and camaraderie. Thank you to all the country and label heads with whom it has been my privilege to collaborate. Thank you to [Warner Music primary owner Len Blavatnik] for your generous support and to [Warner Music CEO Steve Cooper and Warner recorded music chief Max Lousada] for your amazing partnership.”
Lousada, who said he’ll be announcing the leadership transition at international “in due course,” wrote, “During his 14 years at WMG, Stu’s been an influential member of our global leadership team, a devoted supporter of our artists, and a passionate champion of our team. A versatile exec, known for his frankness and integrity, he’s just as comfortable in the boardroom advocating for an acquisition as he is flying halfway around the world to meet backstage with an artist. Ever since, he’s been an ambitious catalyst for change, helping us build a truly global platform for growth. As some of you have heard him say, ‘Success can now come from anywhere and translate everywhere.’”
Bergen pointed to the department and the company’s successes in his note. “By investing in local A&R, we have built domestic and cross-border careers for talents such as Anitta, Aya Nakamura, Christopher, David Guetta, Pablo Alborán, Robin Schulz, and ONE OK ROCK,” his note continues in part. “Together, we’ve grown our worldwide footprint, through strategic acquisitions in fast growing territories and booming genres, from Gold Typhoon in China to Spinnin’ in the Netherlands, while opening affiliates covering around twenty countries. Your combined efforts have entertained the planet, transformed the company, and increased market share.”
Bergen began his career in radio promotion at TVT Records in 1988 and followed with posts at Sony Music and Island Records before joining WMG in 2006. He took on his current role in 2013, and along with his significant contributions to the above achievements opened offices in Lebanon and Peru, struck an early licensing deal with China’s Tencent Music in 2014, spearheaded the integration of Parlophone Records into the Warner system, and led the acquisition of merchandise company EMP for $180 million.
Lousada’s note concluded, “Please join me, Steve, and the whole Warner family in thanking Stu for everything he’s done for our company, our artists, and our industry. He’s got some amazing plans for the future, and as he dives into his next adventure, we know he’ll always have ‘Warner blue’ in his veins.”